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Is your iPhone snooping on all your conversations? Read to know Facts or Myths | Latest News

Last year's FaceTime software flaw caused a huge question about the existence of a widespread invasion of privacy enabled by iPhones. 

Many wanted to know how much of their conversations are being recorded and relayed by various iPhone apps to publishers of those apps. 

You may remember that the FaceTime software flaw lets you call anyone and immediately listen to the audio being captured by their microphone. You can listen to the audio before the person on the other end accepted or rejected your incoming call. 

Until the software flaw was resolved by Apple, this snooping was possible on iPhones, iPads and Macs.

How difficult is it for someone to snoop on my iPhone?

I heard about his iPhone X being hacked by Jeff Bezos. Could this happen to me? While it is clearly possible, it is technically demanding and therefore expensive. Therefore, unless you are a high-profile celebrity or golfing companion to someone like Jeff Bezos or Michael Bloomberg, your risk of experiencing this type of attack is very low.

You can significantly reduce the risk of introducing malware into your iPhone and iPad that could snoop on you by diligently following the advice you’ve heard before:

  • Only click on links when you’re sure you know where the link came from.
  • Only open email or messages from senders you know.
  • Only right click on email attachments from senders you know.
  • Only install apps from the App Store and not from anywhere else.
  • Only install apps from publishers that you know and trust.
  • Only surf websites that display the little lock in the address line indicating use of https encryption.

Is Apple snooping on me?

I think I trust Apple. After all, Apple was one of the few vendors that pushed back against court orders issued to the FBI in defence of customer privacy. Is there any reason not to trust Apple?

Apple recently replied to a US Congressional letter requesting information about how it handles customer data. While being clear to differentiate itself from other companies, Apple made these statements:

  • When we do collect data, we’re transparent about it.
  • We work to disassociate data from customer identification.
  • We utilize on-device processing to minimize data collection by Apple.

Of course, Apple, just like many other companies, collects data on customer activity to improve its products and services.

If you find this description of Apple’s approach to customer privacy insufficient, consider if changing to another smartphone vendor will provide you with greater protection or not.

Is Siri snooping on me?

I understand that for Siri to answer "Hey, Siri", the Siri app must listen to me. Should i worry about that There is no indication that Siri says anything or what he says or broadcasts until you ask Siri something. However, in our conspiracy theory-based world, Apple's assurances did not prevent some from claiming otherwise.

If you don’t want Siri to listen all the time, follow these steps:

  • Open the Settings app.
  • Tap Siri & Search.
  • Next to Listen for “Hey, Siri”, toggle the switch to OFF.
  • Next to Press Home for Siri, toggle the switch to ON.

You can still activate Siri by pressing the side button or pressing the home button, depending on the iPhone model you're using. 
You can also limit the way Siri interacts with your various apps by changing the app-specific default settings that are normally turned on in the Siri and Search menu.

If you’re still nervous, you can lock down Siri entirely by following these steps:
  • Open the Settings app.
  • Tap Siri & Search.
  • Next to Listen for “Hey, Siri”, toggle the switch to OFF.
  • Next to Press Home for Siri, make sure the switch is OFF.
Even with these settings, Siri will sometimes insinuate itself and ask to be turned on if you press and hold Home.

Can I reduce the risk of my iPhone snooping on me further?

These risk reduction points are not enough for me. What else can I do? iOS requires all applications to explicitly request permission to use their microphone and lists the applications that have requested access. You can review these apps and disable access as follows:

  • Open the Settings app.
  • Tap Privacy.
  • Tap Microphone.
  • You’ll see a list of apps that have requested access to the microphone.
  • Toggle the switch to OFF next to any app for which you want to revoke access.

How can I detect a bug on my iPhone?

I know that Apple is proud to certify before making it available in the Apple Store. However, can't an app go to the App Store or directly to my iPhone which is a listening app or bug? It is possible to sneak such malicious applications on your iPhone, even if it requires a lot of technical expertise. Here are some indicators that your iPhone has such a bug: 

Your battery is losing its charge very fast even when you are not using your iPhone, because the bug is lost when shipping your data to its controller. 

Is consuming You observe multiple, random, unexplained screen brightness. Flash is a common indicator of a software flaw in an app or bug. 

If the flash remains on your home screen after a reboot when an app is not running, you are likely to have a bug. If the data usage, cellular tap, under your monthly iPhone bill or settings is much higher than your actual usage, then you are likely to have a bug. 

If the bug is smart enough to broadcast only after it is connected to Wi-Fi, iOS does not offer a built-in way to view Wi-Fi data usage the way Android does. You can choose to install an iOS app to track Wi-Fi data usage. However, the problem with these apps is that they consume a lot of your battery.

Can I use my iPhone to eavesdrop on a conversation?

You can use your iPhone and AirPods, when in Bluetooth range, to eavesdrop on a conversation. Tap Start Live Listen feature which is available from the Hearing menu in Settings. Live Listen will stream whatever the iPhone mic is listening to to your AirPods. Instead of AirPods, you can also eavesdrop with your headphones. That's how:

  • Open the Settings app.
  • Tap Accessibility.
  • Tap Hearing Devices.
  • Tap on the name of your hearing device.
  • Tap Start Live Listen.
  • You can also use the Voice Memos app on your iPhone to record a conversation.

What strategies would you recommend that can reduce snooping on iPhone conversations? Let us know in the comments below.

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